This is the era of innovation and unprecedented disruption. I hate to burst our bubble as a country, but if we continue in this way and manner, we would end up with very little or no intellectual properties in the innovation space.
I make this assertion because, we sometimes get excited about the fact that, we have over 100 million Internet users, (a figure some experts believe, is outrightly false), or the other fact that, some online videos get millions of views, or, the fact that certain issues, such as the #justice4kolade, which, by the way, I support wholeheartedly go viral. These are indeed positive sides because we now have the capacity to leverage technology for greater good. There is, however, a bigger and more underlying issue, which is, how much are we supporting entrepreneurs who are trying to solve problems and build solutions?
Last week, I was a judge, at the BASF West Africa, Smart Cooler Box Design contest organised for students of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Lagos. Honestly, I was quite impressed that these young folks are indeed thinking disruptively. The winner of the competition came up with a cooler design that can use both Alternative and Direct Current sources of power to keep items at a certain temperature.
One of the runners-up came up with a solution that would see cooler boxes dismantled, whenever they were not in use. Wow! The judges were blown away. Yes, those ideas still need to be incubated and refined, but at least we have a corporate organisation that is thinking differently. What I often see most top brands do on our campuses is sponsor music fests and comedy shows. Not a bad idea to support the entertainment industry but there should be a balance.
Moving on, I am excited to announce to the world, the creation of Innovation Support Network Hubs, an organisation made up of 75 founding hubs across Nigeria. The organisation has begun its process of registration as a legal entity and will, afterward, welcome more members of the growing community of Nigerian hubs, with the goal of promoting collaboration among hubs, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in Nigeria.
The mission of ISN Hubs is to foster collaboration, inspire and support Nigerian Hubs, in building a diversified economy that promotes the development of technology, innovation and the early stage entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria. To ensure that, the organisation operates with world-class corporate governance. Member hubs have elected five directors to run its affairs and report to an executive committee, comprising each of the founding hubs. The directors run five directorates of the organisation each namely corporate, finance, partnerships, ecosystem and marketing.
Recall, that on February 10, 2019, I wrote a piece titled, ‘Positioning innovation hubs for sustainability’. In that piece, I shared the story of a journey that began in October 2018, at the AfriLabs annual gathering, which was held in Dar-es-Salem, Tanzania. I am glad that a simple discussion among the Founder, TechnoVision, Tomi Davies; AfriLabs board member, Bernard Chiira; Founder, Innovation Growth Hub, Daniel Chinagozi; Bruce Lucas, Founder, Olutu Square and I, led to the creation of a WhatsApp group, called, ‘Hub Owners Village’, which we decided will be a platform to converge all hubs in the country.
Going forward and as expected with group idiosyncrasies, things went quiet again until some hub founders converged again for Techstar’s Start-up weekend, which held at Innovation Growth Hub, Aba. In attendance, were Hanson Johnson of Start Innovation Hub; Bruce Lucas of Olotu Square; Daniel Chinagozi of Innovation Growth Hub; Edward Esene of Plus Innovation Hub and I, from — Finish Reading on the Punch